Canucks open rookie camp

By Sukhwinder Pandher

The Canucks held their first day of on ice workouts at their practice<br />facility in Burnaby, which included two twenty minute games at the end of the<br />practice

The Vancouver Canucks held their first day of on-ice
workouts at their practice facility in Burnaby, which included two 20-minute
games at the end of the practice.
Included with the minor pro veterans that are signed to play for AHL
affiliate Manitoba this year, the Canucks invited junior prospects as well as a
few free agents from both the college and junior leagues. The first 20-minute game saw the Blue squad
top the White team 1-0 with the only goal coming from Jason King. The second game saw more of the same as Blue
beat White 3-0 with Jesse Schultz scoring two goals and Nathan Smith
adding the empty netter.





Ryan Kesler has come into this camp as the
most touted prospect at the forward position. He played his game and displayed
his great skating ability. Along with
fellow prospect Brandon Nolan on the white squad, the line was able to
create chances through grit and hard work but weren’t able to put any of them
away. Another strong line for Team
White was the line that included the Quebec league duo of Marc-Andre Bernier
and Francois-Pierre Guenette who both displayed the chemistry of being
line mates for several years. Bernier
also displayed his offensive abilities as he showed nice one-on-one moves as
well as improvement in skating abilities.
He didn’t have the great speed through the neutral zone but showed good
quickness and agility in the offensive zone.
Guenette played a strong game at center ice setting up Bernier a couple
of times and being responsible in the defensive zone.


The Blue squad had the most dominant line on the ice as the
trio of Tim Smith, Jason King and Jesse Schultz scored all three
goals in both mini games. King scored
the only goal in the first half as he took a feed from Smith and drove to the
net putting the puck past Wade Flaherty.
He showed good jump and was attacking the net on every opportunity. Schultz showed his scoring touch potting two
goals in, including one on a penalty shot against Julien Ellis-Plante. Smith displayed a nice combination of grit and
skill fighting for pucks and setting up his line mates with scoring
chances. With the departures of both Reid
and Fedorov, both Smith and Schultz look to have ability to make the
jump to the next level. Nathan Smith
had an average game, playing strong without the puck and when in possession he
seemed at a loss as to what to do with it.


The most intriguing free agent was Domenic DeBlois,
the son of former NHLer Lucien DeBlois, who showed some crafty moves and could
be interesting player for ECHL affiliate Columbia Inferno. Another free agent to look out for is the
diminutive forward Tyler Mosienko who showed excellent speed and the
non-stop hustle of a player looking for a contract. Another long shot but impressive free agent on the first day was Guilio
who was flying all over the rink and if he continues at that pace
he could see himself land at the ECHL level.




Those who expected an offensive show from Kiril Koltsov
almost went away disappointed as he was very quiet for most of the
scrimmage. Koltsov played a solid game
making nice passes and clearing out the defensive zone very effectively and
making nice contact, showing his offensive prowess on one rush weaving through
the other team and making a nice pass.
On the other hand his defensive partner, Tomas Mojzis, was very
impressive carrying the puck and making tape to tape passes. He also laid out Nolan with a clean hip
check drawing the attention from the sparse crowd. Another solid first day was Kevin Bieksa, who played a
good two-way physical game in his first day of a pro training camp. Also in his first pro camp, David Schulz
played well and didn’t seem to have any of the problems that were attributed to
him during his evaluation process. Nathan
also played well defensively, especially holding his ground as King
drove to the net, displaying nice strength.
Thunderbird defenseman Mathew Hansen fought the puck most of the day as
he was giving up the puck on the forecheck and having difficulties in his own




The top prospect in the Canuck organization didn’t look
rusty at all as Alex Auld stood tall between the pipes for the Blue
squad, including stopping a two-man breakaway.
Rob McVicar looked solid as well, and should see significant time
in the AHL if there is no work stoppage.
On the other hand it was a shaky start for 2004 draft pick
Elllis-Plante, who looked very nervous and timid at the beginning of his stint
in net. After looking very shaky on two
early goals, he seemed to calm down a bit despite the Blue squad’s crowding of
his crease area.


Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.